Topaz Labs Simplify makes cartooning your critter effortless!Cartoon your Critter

Almost everyone has one. Man’s best friend, this may be a dog, cat, or even a lizard. No matter whether they walk, hop, slither, or crawl, one thing is for sure: You love your pet. Now, wouldn’t you enjoying displaying to the world the love for your pet? If flowers, trees, and mountains can be works of art, then so can your pet! Today, we are going to learn how to cartoon your critter, and turn him or her into a work of art that you can be mounted on your wall for years to come!

By using a few of the Topaz Labs plugins, Remask, Simplify, and Impression, we are going to effortlessly cartoon your critter. Don’t own the plugins? We offer 30 day free trials of all of our plugins. No credit cards required! To try Remask, click here. For Simplify, click over here! And for Impression, click right here. Now let’s get to cartooning your critter. Continue Reading

Guest Blog Post by Gordon Lamb

With the advent of the digital darkroom, the ability to create the impossible has become a more accessible reality to many of us who dreamed of creating impossible images. Much of my inspiration comes from the love of comics, wanting to create those action splash pages. Sadly, my drawing skills shamefully lacked to make it in the comic book industry, so photography coupled with the gaining popularity of cosplay, became the natural extension to create the images I wanted.

Some of My Fantasy Composites

When it comes to creating a conceptual image, I take a very collaborative approach. Working with others helps to hone the concept and identify the technical challenges involved in the process, both on location and in post production.

Zombies, Never Just One, © Gordon Lamb
Zombies, Never Just One

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Within Topaz ReMask there are a variety of brushes to choose from that will assist in correctly masking out an object from its background. If you’re new to the program, then all of these options might be confusing at first. To start, you’ll need to learn how to create a basic tri-map. After you understand how to do that you can move on to using the Dual Color brush, which is specifically used for masking transparent objects.

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If you’re anything like myself, multiple failures to create a ‘clean’ mask from more advanced images were conducted in Topaz ReMask upon first use of the tool. However, with a little bit of practice along with helpful YouTube tutorials, I became more confident with the program.

Here is a useful method I would like to share with you for objects that are a similar color to the background, in this case product photography. The technique behind it is the editing that takes place after the mask is computed.

Screen Shot 2013-10-24 at 3.55.40 PM

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I received a message from a user named Jeff who attended our Benefits of Masking webinar yesterday. He mentioned that he uses ReMask to mask images of his cat, but that his biggest problem is that it takes him so long to mask.

I don’t think I’ve ever masked a cat before, so I decided to give it a try. It was a fun little challenge for me. I thought’d I’d share my image and also some tips that might help you and Jeff.

Now, I was able to do this in less than 5 minutes. After I created my tri-map, I bumped my Recovery slider up to the max and then used the Magic Brush (just a few clicks and strokes) to clean up around my subject. For most images your will spend the majority of your time either creating the tri-map or refining your computed mask. Your masks don’t have to be perfect, but include as many selections as you can. Personally, I spend more time upfront creating my tri-map. This gives me more accurate results off hand…which means less time spent refining.

Here are three key tips to help you get better results faster:

1. During tri-map creation, limit the amount of blue (compute) selections. You don’t have to be precise, however an abundance of blue may result in longer processing times, a less refined initial mask and more refining at the end. So this means, use a smaller blue brush to outline your subject – you may need to zoom into your image more for this. You should also try to sample as many colors as red or green as possible. The more information you give ReMask to compute the better it will do.

2. If you are working on a complex area like hair and you have made several touch-ups with the red and green magic brush, you can then go back and paint over an area with your blue brush (you’ll probably want to increase your brush size a little). This will refine the area more (by recomputing) based off of the additional red and green Magic Brush selections you made…it’s a faster way to clean up difficult areas. It also helps with cleaning up those light gray areas you see when in mask view…that could transfer back to Photoshop as a light film-like contamination from the cutout background.

3. Make use of the various views and background color change option (located in the Menu -> Preferences). This will help you identify areas of clean up much faster.

Have a masking question? Let me know!